Toronado

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History

Not since the 1936 Cord has an automobile been produced in the USA that has set such futuristic benchmarks. The Toronado project, shrouded in secrecy before its official announcement, was known as "XP-784".

But we must keep a bit of historical perspective here. Cord and Ruxton paved the way with the ideology. However, it wasn't so much deveolping the CV joint, as it was the rear mounted transmission. The Cord had the gearbox in front of the motor and had an electric shift selector. As I recall, Ford had the original patent on the FWD configuration with rear (side) mounted tranny and torque convertor. They couldn't make it work though, and sold the patent to GM for pennies, and could not produce a FWD car for ten years after the sale of the patent.

The fellas at GM (Olds division) designed the Morris chain drive without an idler (something Ford couldn't do). By pre-stretching the chain, an idler was never needed. Toros with 350K+ miles still have the original chain without any chatter at all, and are virtually bullet proof! Ford spent years screwing around with idlers and viscous dampening via dash pots that always wore out quickly, as their chain (rubber in some cases) stretched out. I believe noise was one of the most objectionable factors here also. The "real" secret of the Toro is the revolutionary super quiet Morris chain drive IMHO.


The line of demarcation is drawn. Men on one side. Boys on the other. Cars fall into place. No question which side the Toronado takes. Not with that brawny, broad shouldered look. And that responsive performance from a 455 cubic inch Rocket V-8, biggest ever built. And that masterful ride and handling, thanks to the superior traction of FRONT-WHEEL DRIVE and torsion-bar suspension. Like we say, Toronado is all man-right down to that man sized trunk.

The front-wheel-drive youngmobile from Oldsmobile. To quote from the inside cover of the 1966 Toronado Owners manual:

"As the owner of a TORONADO by Oldsmobile, you now drive a distinctive car with appearance features and performance benefits unlike anything on the road today. Never has there been a car with so many distinguising characteristics."

Bobby Unser, who won the Pikes Peak Hill Climb in a 1966 Toro, also performed all the test driving during R & D.

A very good story on the Toronado development is in the December, 1966 issue of Motor Trend. That was when the 1966 Toronado won the Car of the Year award. The entire issue was dedicated to the Toronado, and has a great deal of information on the car.

The original Toronado from 1966 to 1968 had a fastback roofline. In 1969 and 1970 this was changed a bit with squared off rear quarter panels. The second series was built from 1971 to 1978 and were a more formal, less sporty car. The third series was built from 1979 to 1985. The fourth from 1986 to 1993, when production ended. Of particular interest is the 19966 Toronato tail lights on the 1995 to present Aurora, Oldsmobiles flagship vehicle.


The Toronado engine package was absolutely north-south. The FWD trans was essentially a TH-400 mounted along the driver's side of the engine. The TH-400 (redesignated the TH-425) was split aft of the torque converter, the transmission itself was reversed and mounted along side the block with the output shaft facing forward. The chain drive couples to two halves together.

The torque converter is mounted on the flywheel in its normal location at the rear of the engine and a massive chain drive couples the engine to the trans. The differential is mounted at the end of the trans (about under the #3 spark plug), with the right side half shaft running under the oil pan.

The original Hurst Olds was built by swapping a 1968 Toronado 455 engine into a 442.

[ Thanks to Mike R. Frederick, Greg Kalkhoff,Mike Burton, Chuck Noppe, Joe Padavano for this information ]


Production

The Toronado 455 shortblock was used in the original Hurst/Oldses.

All Toronados from '66-'70 featured dual exhaust, at least back to the single transverse muffler. That had either one or two outlets, making it appear to be a dual or single-exhaust car. However, they won't fit in any other body. The driver's side manifold will exit right into your brake master cylinder, and the angle of the passenger side manifold is down and back at about 45', compared to the straight-down of most other manifolds, so you might have firewall clearance problems on that side.

1966:

Authentication: D block, B heads.

40,963 produced.

Final drive ratio (through planetary gears) is 3.21.

1967:

Authentication:

Final drive ratio is (through planetary gears) 3.21.

1968:

Authentication:

Final drive ratio is (through hypoid gears) 3.08.

1969:

Authentication:

Other than a different front grille design, the 1969 is nearly identical to the 1968. The 1969 dash, still has the barrel speedo. Base engine was a 375 HP @ 4800 RPM 455, and an optional W-34 package with 400 HP @ 4800 RPM. Final drive ratio (through hypoid gears) is 3.08.

1970:

Authentication:

Final drive ratio (through hypoid gears) is 2.73.

The 1970 Toronado GT was option W-34, a rare beast it was, and even more so, is. The 1970 Toronado GT model was painted in a two tone color combo. The car is white predominately (no vinyl top), the side panels were painted gold. Really sharp. It has a special notched rear bumper a la 442 and high output version of the 455. An incredible car. Most knowledgeable source of information on this model is Ralph Braun of OCA.


Other Notables:

In Dennis Casteele's book "The Cars of Oldsmobile" he confirms that this was a one-year-only model for 1977. There are 2 pictures of the car, and quoting the captions:
"The top of the line Oldsmobile was the rare Toronado XSR. This was the most expensive regular production Olds ever built with a base sticker of $10,683. Only 2,714 of this front wheel drive machine were made. Weight on model W-57 was 4,781 pounds. This would be the last year for Toronados built in Lansing. Since their introduction in 1966 the Toro had its own exclusive assembly line in Lansing. This model marked the first time ever that an Oldsmobile had a base price in excess of $10,000."

"The XSR had a number of striking features. These included the so-called Panoramic rear window along with an electrically operated astro roof. There was also special striping on the package. In addition to regular production Toros a total of 179 Toro chassis were built for special use. Several major motorhome manufacturers used Toronado components in the construction of their products."

From 1979 through 1985, the Toronado shared the E-body platform with the Buick Riviera and Cadillac Eldorado. The 1980 to 1985 Seville used a variation known as the K-body. The introduction of this platform in 1979 allowed GM to use an A-arm, swing axle type independent rear suspension that had been in development from the early 1970s for the FWD cars.

Actually, Cadillac had experimented with independent rear suspension in the 1930's, but found little benefit, and much more complexity because of the RWD cars they were producing. Anyways, this new design permitted a lower floor, so that trunk and rear seat capacity was preserved despite a major downsizing. There was also a reduction in unsprung mass, but the previous design was very good in this area already.

The view from the rear is indeed distinct; shock absorbers sit prominently (easily visible if the level control is working) to the left and right, while a thin, straight, stabilizer bar extends horizontally, connecting the two semi-trailing arms, which themselves appear to curve out from a point near the middle. BTW, the lower portion of these control arms was dipped in wax as an added measure of corrosion resistance. The E/K-body from 1979 to 1985 represent the last generation of body-on-frame, front wheel drive vehicles produced.

Gaskets are easy to change on this car, since the motor sits so high. Change the fluid and filter on the TH-425 transaxle, and forget about it. The chain drive will last indefinitely, and the innards of the transmission are those of a TH-400, turned 180'. They're virtually indestructible, but if you somehow manage to destroy it, they're not too expensive to rebuild. They were used in '66-'78 Toros and '67-'78 Eldorados, so they're more than plentiful!.

Toronados have the starter bolted to the transmission instead of the block. They also have the conventional starter mounting holes.

[ Thanks to Gregg Ludlam, Kevin Wong, Bob Barry, Joe Padavano for this information ]



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